Social Effects of Health Care Reform: Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act and changes in Volunteering

Socius. 2017 Jan-Dec;3:10.1177/2378023117700903. doi: 10.1177/2378023117700903. Epub 2017 Mar 24.

Abstract

Do public health policy interventions result in pro-social behaviors? The Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s Medicaid expansions were responsible for the largest gains in public insurance coverage since its inception in 1965. These gains were concentrated in states that opted to expand Medicaid eligibility and provide a unique opportunity to study not just medical but also social consequences of increased public health coverage. This article examines the association between Medicaid and volunteer work. Volunteerism is implicated in individuals' health and well-being yet it is highly correlated with a person's existing socioeconomic resources. Medicaid expansions improved financial security and a sense of health-two factors that predict volunteer work-for a socioeconomic group that has had low levels of volunteerism. Difference-in-difference analyses of the Volunteer Supplement of the Current Population Survey (2010-2015) find increased reports of formal volunteering for organizations as well as informal helping behaviors between neighbors for low-income non-elderly adults who would have likely benefited from expansions. Furthermore, increased volunteer work associated with Medicaid was greater among minority groups and narrowed existing ethnic differences in volunteerism in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility.

Keywords: ACA; Medicaid; Volunteer work.